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LJD
02-10-2012, 06:03 AM
So this is what I need:

A problem someone living an apartment might have that could be fixed by someone who is generally good with tools/figuring things out, but which many people would not be able to fix. A problem that someone would want fixed fairly quickly.

The only idea I had was a problem with a light switch. Person changes the lightbulb, and that doesn't solve the problem. Nor is it the fuse. (At this point, I think the average person would be stuck?) The switch needs to be replaced.

thanks!

Edit: This is just a way to get one person over to another person's apartment.
But I suppose I may need to rethink this if the super has to do any repairs...

lizbeth dylan
02-10-2012, 06:12 AM
Not sure about electrical work as that usually requires a licensed electrician.

stopped up sink or toilet
leaky faucet
broken door knob
replace electric burner/element on stove
leaky shower head
toilet that keeps running

Those are all pretty simple to fix and most people would rather call the super than try to fix it themselves.

Many apt. Complexes will charge you for NOT calling their guy to fix things right away. They view it as protecting their investment. My daughter was charged when they left because there were things they didn't report and get fixed.

Karen Junker
02-10-2012, 06:13 AM
In the movie Bound a character drops an earring into the drain of the sink, so the handy person has to come in and take the trap off the plumbing under the sink.

A switch needing to be replaced is a longshot.

Losing a piece of valuable jewelry is fairly urgent and not everyone would know how to take the plumbing apart to look for it.

You could have the apartment upstairs have a dishwasher that starts leaking and the water comes in through the ceiling light fixtures of the kitchen below.

Captcha
02-10-2012, 06:18 AM
That might work.

I've also, in my own home, been frustrated by plumbing. Changing a washer I can handle. But when I change the washer and a few weeks later the tap is dripping again... Aaargh.

A lot of handy-people I know are a little hesitant about messing with electricity. Not so much that they think they're going to get electrocuted, more that they're aware of the potential to burn the house down. But most of them, at least in my experience, are fine with messing around with plumbing, despite the possibility of causing a nasty flood.

Other possibilities:

A plugged drain that doesn't respond to Draino or plunging;
Any sort of drain issue, really - backed-up drains are nasty;
Depending on the climate, something with the heat or AC;
An appliance that doesn't work properly (broken fridge or freezer esp., if you want urgency);
A broken window;
etc.

But most of these would usually be handled by the super in an apartment, right? Are you looking for something that the tenant him/herself would be responsible for?

FabricatedParadise
02-10-2012, 06:28 AM
Just because everyone is talking about plumbing...

One night -- recently enough that I'm still trying to forget it -- I went to the kitchen sink to fill something (I think I was trying to fill a pitcher to water some plants). I have one of those faucets that pulls right out of the stem and becomes a spray nozzle with the press of a button. Well, the hose was apparently loose because the damn nozzle came off in my hands and the hose swung wildly, soaking me and spraying a good 15ft (over a snackbar and out into the living room, onto the couch) before slipping back into the stem and down into the cabinet under the sink.

Having been sprayed in the face, I was so shocked it took me a few seconds to turn the water off. Then, I had to break out the plumbing supplies (tape, wrench, etc.) to screw the hose back onto the nozzle, after feeding it back up through the stem.

The hubs had such a good laugh when I told him about it. So glad he wasn't around to see it.

[/end embarrassing story]

LJD
02-10-2012, 06:35 AM
A plugged drain that doesn't respond to Draino or plunging;
Any sort of drain issue, really - backed-up drains are nasty

Could work. So how would such a drain issue be fixed?



But most of these would usually be handled by the super in an apartment, right? Are you looking for something that the tenant him/herself would be responsible for?

Yes, something that the super could usually fix is good, although it wouldn't be the super fixing it in this case...it's a small building with no onsite super. And getting things fixed usually takes a few days, and it's something she doesn't want to wait a few days for.


In the movie Bound a character drops an earring into the drain of the sink, so the handy person has to come in and take the trap off the plumbing under the sink.

A switch needing to be replaced is a longshot.



I needed a switch replaced; that's why I thought of it.

The earring is a good idea.

Siri Kirpal
02-10-2012, 06:43 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My husband is handy, and he's fine with fixing switches. He re-did hefty parts of the electricity in two houses we've owned. Nothing burned down. :)

But yeah, I think the earring down the drain idea is good too. A switch could wait.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

jclarkdawe
02-10-2012, 06:47 AM
Switches are pretty reliable. To be honest, in your scenario, I'd be more likely to suspect the light fixture as the source of the problem. Switches tend to fail in other fashions.

Assuming the apartment house management allows you to do things is a big thing. It's very rare that they will. So here's something fun and exciting that most people don't know, yet any landlord would have no problem with. Apartment has a built-in dishwasher. Or a built-in overhead fan. Device starts smoking. Like a guy smoking a pack of Camels all at once. Step one is call fire department, but then what do you do? Smart person trips the electricity, because it's most likely an electrical fire. If you kill the power before the fire spreads beyond the electrical fire, the fire goes away. Most people will rescue their photo album and evacuate, with the potential of doing a lot of damage. By the way, if you don't know the specific fuse, you throw the master. How many people know where the master is for their house/apartment?

Second option is a pipe breaks as it comes out of the wall, before the shutoff. Water is pouring out at five gallons a minute. What do you do? All buildings have a master valve to shut off the entire building. Apartment buildings may have individual valves for each apartment, or just the master. Shut that off and castrophe is averted. Much better then your apartment becoming a lake.

These are both something that you can do in any apartment house. And the scenes both have a lot of dramatic potential.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

raburrell
02-10-2012, 06:51 AM
Jim beat me to it, but yeah, switches are easy.
When you've got water pouring out of a ceiling fixture from an overflowing toilet in the apartment upstairs, that's when you want someone there ASAP.

LJD
02-10-2012, 08:27 AM
Switches are pretty reliable. To be honest, in your scenario, I'd be more likely to suspect the light fixture as the source of the problem. Switches tend to fail in other fashions.

Assuming the apartment house management allows you to do things is a big thing. It's very rare that they will. So here's something fun and exciting that most people don't know, yet any landlord would have no problem with. Apartment has a built-in dishwasher. Or a built-in overhead fan. Device starts smoking. Like a guy smoking a pack of Camels all at once. Step one is call fire department, but then what do you do? Smart person trips the electricity, because it's most likely an electrical fire. If you kill the power before the fire spreads beyond the electrical fire, the fire goes away. Most people will rescue their photo album and evacuate, with the potential of doing a lot of damage. By the way, if you don't know the specific fuse, you throw the master. How many people know where the master is for their house/apartment?

Second option is a pipe breaks as it comes out of the wall, before the shutoff. Water is pouring out at five gallons a minute. What do you do? All buildings have a master valve to shut off the entire building. Apartment buildings may have individual valves for each apartment, or just the master. Shut that off and castrophe is averted. Much better then your apartment becoming a lake.

These are both something that you can do in any apartment house. And the scenes both have a lot of dramatic potential.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

This is just to get one person over to the other person's place so I don't need anything too dramatic. :)

At least where I live, property management companies can be pretty bad, and it wouldn't be unreasonable for someone to have to wait a while to have something important fixed. I thought if it was something not too major, it wouldn't be a big deal if the tenant fixed it? My friend waited a long time for her kitchen sink, which drained at glacial speed, to be fixed. I assume it's the same whether it's a small rental unit (broken into 4-5 apartments) or a large apartment building, so making it a small building wouldn't help?

(Perhaps my view is also skewed by having living in a university town with a reputation for the notorious state of its off-campus housing.)

I suppose I could make it the A/C, because a window unit would be the tenant's and the tenant would be responsible.

But maybe I should rethink this plot point to get around this. hmmm. thanks.

MeretSeger
02-10-2012, 09:27 AM
How about her illicit cat is stuck in the crawl space over the apartment? She needs help getting the cat, and sure can't call the manager about that. And why is there a hole to the crawlspace? You'd have to talk about my college apartment manager's ideas about...habitability. heh.

If you only want a reason for someone to have to come over, go for a computer problem. Hard to fix over the phone, and everyone thinks they're an expert.

debirlfan
02-10-2012, 10:42 AM
Bad switches may not be all that uncommon - we had one fixed recently. In our case, it was one of those lights that could be controlled by two different switches - you could turn the light on and off from either switch, but apparently something broke or shorted out in one of the switches and after that, you could no longer turn the light on with one switch and off with the other.

I don't know how nice of a place your character lives in, but if her landlord is a bit of a slumlord who can't be bothered to fix stuff, the tenants might just not even bother to call for minor stuff and just fix it themselves (or get someone to) and shut up about it. That might also apply if the apartment was being unofficially sub-let, or if she had a pet or something else she didn't want the landlord knowing about.

amlptj
02-10-2012, 10:47 AM
me and my boyfriend have done a good number of repairs around my very old house. We have switched light switches ourselves. Which really doesn't take rocket science and you can pick up new light-switches at home deport and Lowes. We also replaced electrical sockets, florescent light-bulbs, replaced doorknobs, fixed a broken fuse, and a few other things. All are fairly simple to do, but i hadn't done them in 10 years because i was always nervous they were harder then they actually were.

jclarkdawe
02-10-2012, 05:25 PM
Personally, although I've done electrical and plumbing and very rarely hire someone to do something for me, I've never done that in an apartment building without express approval from my landlord. Nor would I do it with my kid's apartment (if they lived close enough) or a friend. Just too much potential for things to explode in big and bad ways.

However, emergencies are another matter. And a light switch, unless the thing is actually smoking, isn't an emergency.

I'd go with a busted pipe. It's an emergency, causing the friend to drop everything and rush over. The friend coming over looks like a hero for stopping the water. You can make the landlord look however you want without a problem. You can make both of the people as smart or dumb as you want, with a wide range. (Not knowing about the shutoff under the sink is rather dumb, having the shutoff not work because it won't move isn't. You then have to go further back in the system to shut it off.)

If my kids or a friend needed a light switch fixed, it wouldn't be a rush for me. Only way I can think of that it would be a rush is if I was single and it was a really hot chick, with a promise of really good sex for doing the work.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

LJD
02-10-2012, 07:38 PM
How about her illicit cat is stuck in the crawl space over the apartment? She needs help getting the cat, and sure can't call the manager about that. And why is there a hole to the crawlspace? You'd have to talk about my college apartment manager's ideas about...habitability. heh.

If you only want a reason for someone to have to come over, go for a computer problem. Hard to fix over the phone, and everyone thinks they're an expert.

Where I live/where the story is set, the landlord is not actually allowed to tell you you can't have pets. "no pet" clauses are void. (no exotic pets=different story)

The computer thing is my back-up plan....

LJD
02-10-2012, 07:38 PM
If my kids or a friend needed a light switch fixed, it wouldn't be a rush for me. Only way I can think of that it would be a rush is if I was single and it was a really hot chick, with a promise of really good sex for doing the work.


Sort of this situation, but no promise of sex. :)

Orianna2000
02-11-2012, 12:01 AM
I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but when I lived in an apartment, I had one bathroom sink stop working, where I'd turn the tap on full, but just a bare trickle of water would come out. We called the guy to fix it and all he did was unscrew the tip of the faucet (not sure what that's called but the little end piece right where the water comes out) and then he dumped out a bunch of debris that had got stuck in the little filter. Apparently this is common in new apartments and houses, or where they've been doing recent construction. Bits of wood and plastic get into the pipes somehow and then get trapped against the inside of the faucet, causing the water flow to be interrupted or clogged.

Same thing happened when we moved into our new house, only I remembered this incident, and so instead of calling a plumber, which would have been expensive, I unscrewed the tip of the faucet and sure enough--it was filled with debris. Tapped it out, screwed the thing back on, and voila! Running water.

So perhaps something like that could happen to your character? She might panic if water won't come out of her tap, because how can she brush her teeth or get a drink of water? She might call the guy to come fix it, and it's very simple to fix, so it wouldn't take much effort on his part.

ironmikezero
02-11-2012, 01:23 AM
Does it have to be a problem with some aspect of the apartment itself?

Why not something wrong with a PC or a new flat screen TV... like getting them to interface with with a router? Your MC's geek-fu isn't apparently up to the task and appropriate help must be sought.

This potentially takes the super out of the equation.

Anaximander
02-11-2012, 02:27 AM
If it just needs to be a way to get this person to come over, why does it need to be a home-related problem? Just go with something that fits some skill this person has. As a programmer, the first one that comes to me is computer problems - virus, random crashes, inability to connect to the internet; something like that.

CEtchison
02-11-2012, 03:31 AM
My husband, then boyfriend, had to fix my sliding patio door that got hung up on the track. At my complex, you just left a number on an after hours recording and there was never any telling when they would respond. And since I lived on the ground floor and faced the street, it wasn't something that could wait forever. Anybody would have been able to enter since I couldn't get the door shut.

LJD
02-11-2012, 03:48 AM
thanks everyone for your responses. I think I've got it figured out.

blackrose602
02-11-2012, 09:32 PM
Just popping in to say wow. At the risk of derailing the thread--I had no idea supers and restrictions against tenants fixing things were so common! I've only ever seen it in the movies. Lived in lots of apartments around Central Florida and New Orleans, always in converted houses/hotels/whatever rather than what you would think of as an "apartment building." Rented through a property management company from an out of state owner, and never had a "super." Usually one maintenance person who had his/her hands full repainting/prepping vacated apartments, and the tenants were always responsible for anything that wasn't a huge project. Faucets, light switches, ceiling fans, doorknobs, whatever were our responsibility. The central A/C going out required a call to the property manager, who eventually tracked down the owner, who eventually got around to authorizing a repair. But even at that, we had to find a repair shop, schedule the repairs, deal with the whole process, then have the bill sent to the owner.

Sorry for the derail. Just interesting to see how different things are in different areas.